Sometimes I Feel Like I’m The Only One That “Gets It”

I’m feeling sort of sluggish today. Its a accumulation of a lot of things, and I realize no one really wants to read a post that starts with the phrase “I’m feeling” but today I got the impression that I wasn’t alone. Perhaps it’s just the dreary weather outside or it’s that time of the year where I question everything I have done or decisions I’ve made. Not sure. But I do know that this post revealed a lot of where I’m coming from. Brian Walsh is one of the few people in my life that I would give the credit to of actually “getting it.” I can only talk to a handful of people and leave the conversation feeling liberated because I don’t feel alone anymore. While my conversations with Brian are very limited, I have the luxury of reading posts like these and his books and listening to him wherever he ends up.

I started theStory because I believed in the Church and its role in the world and I thought that a church like theStory could benefit Sarnia for the sake of the kingdom. As I arrived I realized it was much more the other way around. The downtown community here is more in line with the kingdom than our little community has ever been. Maybe I’m just a sellout, but I really want to know where are the Christians that actually want to live out what it means to follow Jesus and participate in the redemptive narrative? Where are these Christians that truly want to face into the empire and are willing to risk their comfortable, responsible lives to do so? I’m not so sure I’m in the right place for it. At least not with the Christians. We are all so preoccupied in whatever fills up our bank accounts and our little selfish projects that we barely have time to think about what really matters. Then I look out my window and watch as the downtown community flourishes with the relationships, mandate and passion that I long for with my community.

Part of this empowers me and reminds me that this is exactly why I am here. The other half of me is paralyzed because I don’t want to be the bad guy that is calling people out of their comfortable lives. I don’t want to be the hypocrite that falls miserably. I don’t want to start something; I want to join something that already is functioning, or at least feel like there is a community that is with me in aiming for the same things. There is a sense of pride in me that I struggle to get rid of in being enlightened more than the other. It does go hand in hand with a sense of frustration because I feel alone and unsupported. Brian Walsh is doing a series on “getting it” his first post is called On “Not Getting It” and the Virtue of Humility and his second post entitled On “Not Getting It” and God Outside of the Church. Here is a quote from his second one.

You feel that many of your fellow Christians “don’t get it”? Well, tempering this observation with the humility that I referred to in my last post, you are right. Many Christians “don’t get it.” Much of contemporary Christian life has been taken captive by an imperial imagination. So what do we do? Go wherever we can to find a liberated imagination. God will not be without a witness. God will not be without prophetic voices. And God will not be limited to the Christian community when he calls forth such witness, such prophetic voices.

10 Comments

  • I’ll start my comment with an “I feel” statement as well, and say that I feel as though I am on the way to getting it, but am not convinced that getting it is really the point.

    To speak of Christians who ‘don’t get it’ seems like a bit of an oxymoron; can we truly call ourselves Christians, literal followers if Jesus, if we don’t understand what that means, if we don’t ‘get it’? Trust me, I lump myself right in the middle of that, but take heart in the fact that even Jesus’ disciples didn’t seem to get it right away, and continued to wrestle with the implications of the new / old way of living made possible through Christ and his Kingdom come.

    I like these words of Bonhoeffer on this:

    “Going after him is something without specific content. It is truly not a program for one’s life which would be sensible to implement. It is neither a goal nor an ideal to be sought.”

    Maybe it’s not about getting it at all. Maybe what is required of us is taking the necessary steps of obedience, continually being shaped by the truthful story of Scripture [not to get to Hauerwasian]. I don’t know. I find myself continually caught in the tension between the powers of this world and THE POWER of the Kingdom. The process of getting it is a daily wrestling match, trying to making those steps of obedience towards discipleship.

    That’s where I am at, anyway.

  • What is there to get?

    Youre damned for saying you get it and your damned if you dont.

    I think the issue we all really run into is who cares if you dont get it? There is no consequence.

    We live in a culture where you can think and be anything you want no persecution. There is no need to be a Christian in times such as these (or so we think).

    I am not in need and my life isnt on the line. I am comfortable. Who cares if I care? Who cares if I dont?

    We can read anything we want, be creative the next, be enlightened weekly.. who cares. Its only you changing. If you hear a message or have a conversation with someone its not going to change the world, only you.

    If you stand up for what you do, who you are, thinking outside of the box you get shit on. It seems people are more vocal about you not being.

    And, in a sense, I dont blame them.

  • thanks for the comment ian

    i don’t mean “get it” as in i’m saved more or i’m going to heaven and those that don’t get it aren’t. What I mean “get it” is a loaded term probably that has a slew of tons of things. It’s the reason I started a church instead of joining an existing one, and its the reason I walk away from a conversation with my grandparents shaking my head. It is hard for me to know what I know to communicate and live life with people who either refuse to look into new things or who disagree completely and wish to do something else.

    I realize that I am far from perfect and nothing like how Jesus wants me to be. I do find myself in a particular part on my journey that while being here it makes a lot more sense for me to live out my calling alongside of other people who get what i’m talking about that it would be to be living alongside of people who were constantly telling me i was crazy. I get a lot of the ladder.

    So I hope when I speak of “getting it” I’m not coming off as self righteous in that I finally think I’ve grasped what God was talking about but I do feel that where I am on my walk with God is next to impossible to translate to where other people are and it frustrates me.

    Thank-you for alluding to the disciples though, that really is exactly where I feel. Sometimes I feel like Jesus and I just want to slap people in the head and say wake up, don’t you see what is happening all around us. Then other times I feel like the disciples, confused out of my mind and not a clue what is going on and still following Jesus anyway.

  • I understand what you’re saying. The more I think about it, the more I realize how set in a way that we can become. The more that we go about living in a certain kind of way, the harder it is to really ‘get it’ because we literally become people conditioned in that counter-gospel way. It really affirms to me the importance of daily Christian habits and practices, training ourselves to become more in tune with THE way. I can’t blame older generations like our grandparents, so set in how they have come to understand things over decades. Even if it is off track, it’s hard to wrap your mind around that new / old way when it been so formative in your thinking. Heck, I’m still in my 20’s and it’s hard to reverse learned patterns of behavior. Hope this paragraph makes sense.

    When we come back to Canada, I definitely want to come to Sarnia to check out what you guys are up to with theStory. Thanks for linking to that Empire Remixed blog too, that’s good stuff.

  • Ron,

    Are you sure you’re not talking about something a little more personal? It seems like you’re not even replying to what Nathan actually wrote about but rather some deeper matters that you’re struggling with.

    Dave

  • Nathan,
    I skimmed your blog so maybe I don’t ‘get it’ but I think I get the gist of it. Why don’t you be the example and to borrow another pop-culture cliche “just do it”!
    Get out their and join that down town community, volunteer somewhere, and build relationships with people outside of your church community. It doesn’t have to be a church thing right? It just has to be a ‘Jesus’ thing.

  • although no one may not know all the answers, you can never go wrong with humility. i’ve tried “figuring it all out”, only to come to the point of still being dissatisfied. So humility enables you to continue living in a defunct world, but beyond that, enables God to truly work through you. then all the clutter that use to matter don’t anymore, … Read Moresince it really wasn’t even about those things in the first place.

    humility is liberating, but i’m still not a fan of it. but, like you infer, it is the key to unlocking what “really being a Christian” is all about.

    props to your honesty. hey i’m not the only one thinking the same things too!

  • Nathan, I know you have struggles with how many “churches” approach ministry and I know you personally have had bad experiences with church yourself. Having said that, many Christians do get it, but maybe not on the way you think they should. People everywhere need God’s love. It takes all the churches in the area, with the myriad of different persons, to fully reach this community, only, however, enabled and empowered through the Holy Spirit. Building real relationships with people in our circle of influence is crucial. Ernest has some great insights about humility. Remember, the church is the bride of Christ, of which we are a part. We don’t start churches, God does. Besides, as far as I knew and our church family, is that if a person was attributed with starting theStory, it is Joe Manafoe.

    Nonetheless, there are many methods and perspective. I am tired of the ultra conservative approach, which believes that everything the church was should stay the same because that’s the way it always was and it used to work. I also don’t appreciate some of the sentiment coming from the liberal approach that is never satisfied with anything and change is instituted sometimes out of habit. The older generation sometime likes to look down on the younger generation’s different worship styles and ministry approach and church structure. However, I see also in abundance the younger generation displaying an attitude of “we’ve figured out the right way of doing church”, almost like the attitude laden teenager that thinks they have it all figured out, which in the end is very disrepectful to those who have contributed to what we have today.

    One of the many reasons I appreciate the Wesleyan tradition, is the emphasis on the “middle way” ( which is a lonely place ) and it’s emphasis on orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy.

    Remember, God is so big that He can use people of all walks of the faith, in all styles of doing church, and yes, even those outside the faith, to fulfill His will.

    I appreciate your dedication to the poor and to a segment of Sarnia, that has largely been overlooked, however, remember, all the believers in Sarnia can in their own work places and neighbourhoods and community groups they belong to, be the hands and feet of Jesus.

    Guard your heart and be careful not to get cynical or jaded. This is exactly what Satan would want. A divided church is a weak one. Follow where God wants you to go and don’t be concerned with others, other than as a pastor to encourage, love and equip. Negative attitudes arent’ productive.

    If you “do it” with passion and God’s calling, others will follow. We can’t all be in the same place.

    I will end with this, if your motivation for “doing” church this way is motivated more out of what you don’t like, than out of how God can work through you and what His purpose is, it won’t have the fruit that God intended.

  • Hey Dean, I don’t have much to say to your comments. I’m not sure you fully grasp where I’m coming from. What I was writing was basically a post about my struggle of feeling like I’m alone in a lot of my beliefs. Because I am one way, and others are another, from my point of view, whether that is objectively correct or not, the people on the other side just don’t “get it.” This isn’t to say they aren’t genuine, beautiful, God-fearing people. It is only saying that they aren’t where I am, and it makes me feel alone. Getting a comment like yours only reaffirms that I am in fact more alone with my beliefs than not alone because from where I am, you just don’t “get it.” Where I am sure, and judging by your comment, you would say the same about me.

    Nathan.

  • Hey Man – Thanks for being transparent on this. It is, and can be a hard slog. I find that in my own work at times too. Some moments where people are getting it, and others where it’s all about personal comfort. Living the gospel, and leading others in asking big questions isn’t easy if you’re not being empowered by a community of folks not also interested in asking those questions. If I can be a part of that community for you, I’d love to be.

    I may not always get it (I think we all struggle with that), but I’m keen on journeying with others who walk this lonely road of living the upside-down kingdom way, all the while inviting others along on the journey.

    Keep doing what you do. Keep being who you are.

Join the Discussion